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Page 112
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 5
round-trip flight. Airplane dealerships aren't
like auto dealerships. They rarely have the
one you want sitting there on the lot waiting
for you to write a big check in a steady hand,
climb in, and fly away. On the contrary, after
I signed on the dotted line I wouldn't take
possession for eight months, which gave me
plenty of time to decide how to make the old
runway serviceable.
The simplest solution was to repave the old
airstrip and taxiway, though in hindsight that
didn't make much sense.
For one, it costs a lot of money to pave a
2,722-foot runway and taxiway. Tribble & Ste-
phens Construction politely offered to do the
job for a whopping $339,000. I could blacktop
around the two existing hangars that were
located about halfway down the runway for
$196,000, but I didn't want to do that. Those
hangars, it turns out, would be flattened by
the new jet runway, so any paving was a waste
of money. Subsequently, I received a slightly
less painful bid from FT Woods Construction
for $255,000.
Also, I had an oil and gas pipeline planted
under the runway. I didn't know the exact lo-
cation and finding it meant tearing up a large
section of the runway and taxiway. Why pave
it if I just had to tear it up in the near future?
There was another vote against repaving;
even if I could make the pipeline magically
disappear, much of the money spent on pav-
ing would be lost forever. The new jet runway
we had in mind ran directly across the old
runway, which meant tearing up a good 1,000
feet or more of the old, freshly blacktopped
airstrip in a few months.
I decide to resurface the runway anyway.
With little hesitation I selected FT Woods
for the job, signed the contract, sent them a
check, and asked them to start immediately.
At first the contractor balked. They weren't
used to doing shoddy work, but that's exactly
what I was paying for. In contractor language
that meant without using lime and other addi-
tives to stabilize the soil and without laying in
a solid base of compacted crushed limestone
and applying a layer of hot mixed asphaltic
concrete paving the runway would eventually
crack and heave. This extra care came at a
cost and one I wasn't willing to pay, even if it
was all true. With a straight face, I asked the
contractor to give me the quarter-million-dol-
lar version, the one in his bid, and we'd call it
good. Grade it, lay a base of rock to fill in the
holes, and lay down an inch or two of asphalt.
2008. Emergence of substantial cracks in asphalt.
Photo courtesy of David Hannah III.